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Posted June 20, 2006

Ask An Expert

Elderly Care: Checking Out Assisted Living Options

Q. My parents look like they need some sort of assisted living. What will happen to all of their assets and belongings? I've heard their home can be taken away -- is this true? They currently live in Florida. If they do go into assisted living, we would move them out here to Colorado. Is there a resource you can give me for this information? I am leaving to visit them now to see how bad they are really doing. Thanks.

Hal L., Thornton, Colorado.

A. Most assisted living facilities in the are private-pay facilities. An assisted living facility offers a special combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to respond to the individual needs of those who need help in activities of daily living (ADL) but do not need the skilled medical care provided in a nursing home. Many facilities accept Medicaid. Assisted living residences range in size from 3 to more than 200 beds. The most common reasons for admission to assisted living residences are medication management, bathing and dressing assistance, and the need for protective oversight and supervision.

If your parents have assets and income, they would have to pay for assisted living out-of-pocket, until they spend down to a certain level, and then apply for Medicaid. Cost range between $1,500 monthly on a low end, to upwards of $5,000-$6,000 on the high end. Unlike nursing homes, when you enter an assisted living facility, you get your own small apartment. Your parents may bring their belongings with them.

Private pay assisted living residences are licensed. Alternative care facilities have Medicaid clients and are licensed and certified. Residential treatment facilities are mental health facilities and are licensed. They are operated by the local mental health center. Assisted living residences provide a range of services, and include a physically safe and sanitary environment, room and board, personal services, protective oversight and social care.

For information on what’s available in your state, Colorado, check out www.cdphe.state.co.us/hf/hfd.asp. Information on Florida, where your parents live, can be found here: www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=49.

This answer is provided by Jack Halpern, MPS, LNHA, an eldercare advocate and a licensed nursing home administrator. Halpern, a nationally recognized expert on eldercare issues, is the author of many articles on eldercare and nursing home abuse, and is the CEO of My Elder Advocate. His website is www.myelderadvocate.com, and he can be reached at jhalpern@myelderadvocate.com. 

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